Book Review: Spindle Fire
By: Lexa Hillyer
Published By: HarperCollins
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Page Count: 351
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Young Adult - Fantasy, Fairy Tale Inspired
Sleeping Beauty is a familiar story and one of my favorite fairy tales. I have read Hillyer's contemporary novel, Proof of Forever, and enjoyed it, so I thought I'd give this one a go. Some authors struggle with making the leap from contemporary to fantasy, but I feel that Hillyer nailed the transition and managed to put her own stamp on the age old tale.
Aurora, aka Sleeping Beauty, isn't the only main character in Hillyer's reimagined tale. She has a half sister, Isabella, aka Isbe, who is her best friend and constant companion. The girls have lost valuable traits as fairy tithes, so they rely heavily on one another. Aurora cannot speak nor does she have a sense of touch. Isbe is blind and must use her other senses to navigate the world. The girls have crafted a secret language so that Aurora can communicate what she sees to her sister. The bond between these two was one of my favorite things about the novel. They have their squabbles like any normal sisters would, but ultimately they love one another deeply and are willing to go to incredible links to protect the other.
When Isbe and Aurora learn that Isbe is to be sent away when Aurora marries, both girls decide to do something about it. Aurora plans to speak to the council and refuse to marry if they force her sister from the castle, but Isbe takes matters into her own hands and runs off with her best friend, Gilbert. These choices will set off a chain of events that will change both girls forever. They will face danger, adventure, and romance as they try to navigate their dangerous new circumstances in a world on the brink of war. Humans will have to fight the fey, but which sister will become the heroine?
I loved Hillyer's intriguing take on the Sleeping Beauty lore. She kept some traditional aspects while making Aurora her own. I loved the addition of Isbe and felt that she made Aurora more human in many ways. She was no longer a fairy tale, but a living breathing person. I was also fascinated by the fairy aspect of this story. The introduction of the novel also mentions that Hillyer was inspired by Alice in Wonderland, which I can also see, especially with the fairy queens.
The structure of the novel is also intriguing as each chapter is told from a different perspective. A majority of the chapters focus on Aurora and Isbe, but readers also get into the mind of several other characters including some of the fey. I liked the variety this style provided. I didn't get too bogged down by one character and got to experience the setting in a broader manner.
My one major complaint with this one is the cliffhanger ending. I have so many unanswered questions. I know this is the first in a duology, but I still wanted a little more resolution.
If Sleeping Beauty, Once Upon A Time, and a medieval tapestry had a love child, Spindle Fire would be the result. I found it to be a highly addictive read.
One Last Gripe: I feel like a love triangle might be imminent in the next novel.
Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved the relationship between Isbe and Aurora, but I loved the whaling scene. There was something intense and vivid about that particular section.
First Sentence: Winter seemed to come early in 1313, the year Aurora was born.
Favorite Character: Isbe
Least Favorite Character: Malfleur
Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king's headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.
And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora's blood--and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.
As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.
Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape . . . or the reason for her to stay.
Spindle Fire is the first book in a lush fantasy duology set in the dwindling, deliciously corrupt world of the fae and featuring two truly unforgettable heroines.